12 October 2017
There are three main risk factors when it comes to developing breast cancer - unfortunately there is very little you can actually do about any of them!
However, regular self-checks and an awareness of what to look out for can help keep the number of successful breast cancer treatments on the rise, said Mr Amit Agrawal, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.
“The main risk is, unsurprisingly, being a woman,” he explained. “Over 99% of new cases of breast cancer are in women and there isn’t much you can do about that!
“The second biggest risk is getting older - more than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50 and third is significant family history – although this isn’t as common as some may think, with around 5% of people diagnosed with breast cancer having inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA 2.”
But Mr Amit Agrawal stressed that regular checks and early action are still the biggest weapons in a woman’s armoury when it comes to beating the disease and help keep treatment success figures on the rise.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that around 8 out of 10 women in England survive their disease for ten years or more, compared with 4 out of 10 back in the 1970s. Figures for surviving for five years or more are even higher at almost nine out of ten – 87%.
“Without any doubt early detection leads to better treatment results. That means we need to ensure that every woman knows how to carry out effective self-check procedures and, just as importantly, what to do if she thinks something is wrong.
“It is important to get an early appointment with a GP to discuss the matter. The patient will then receive informed advice and, if necessary, be placed on the correct care pathway,” said Mr Agrawal.
Although finding a lump in your breast does not always signify breast cancer it is important that women ‘get to know’ their breasts so they could spot changes.
“Many women will experience lumpy breasts just before their period; often this disappears after the period. However, it is important to keep checking and if the lump doesn’t go away then get it checked out by your GP,” said Mr Agrawal.
Despite increasing survival rates CRUK says that about 60,000 people in the UK are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer every year, resulting in around 12,000 deaths.
Possible symptoms that can be found by self-examination:
Painless lumps in the breast
Changes in the size or shape of a breast
Dimpling to the skin of the breast
Thickened breast tissue
Lump or thickening behind the nipple
Rash affecting the nipple
Blood-stained discharge from the nipple
Swelling or a new lump in the armpit
Clear nipple discharge coming from one side.
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.